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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ethan Frome: A Review


That pretty much sums up my feelings on this book. Either that or snoring. Honestly, I can see what the author was going for in righting this; a bittersweet, dark, realistic portrayal of human life and effects love can have on it. The ending had sort of a Romeo and Juliet feel to it, except that those two actually knew what they were doing. Unlike Ethan and Mattie.

Ah yes, Ethan and Mattie. The two most boring characters in literary history. Ethan has some dimension to him, mainly because the rather stalkerish narrator decides to tell us every tiny thought that goes through his head. Really, how the hell does a mechanic know what the guy is thinking? Clearly we have a mind reading, stalker on our hands here, which would have seriously helped the plot of this book along.

Plot you ask? There's a plot to this? Apparently, there's suppose to be. Personally, I think it got lost in the snow and hit with a tree...or was that Mattie? We'll never know for sure. The story follows the life of the young, handsome, hopelessly trapped farmer Ethan Frome and his quest to find...something. Actually, thinking about it now, he doesn't really have a quest, he mostly just wants to cheat on his dragon-lady wife Zeena with her beautiful cousin Mattie. Sound like a soap opera? It's either that or a fantasy sci-fi thriller (Am I the only one who thought Zeena was the name of a warrior princess?)

Anyway, after Ethan spends a few chapters venting, writing goodbye letters, and deciding it's all hopeless, he decides to head out to the train station with his precious Mattie, who is being sent home by his evil Zeena. The two eventually decide that they can't live without each other, and since life is meaningless, decide to commit suicide together a la Romeo and Juliet.

Here's where it gets interesting. At this point in the "novel" you're so incredibly sick of the main characters that you're really looking forward to their brutal taking of their own lives. MY GOD would that have been satisfying! But no, this is not to be. Turns out Ethan and Mattie are even worse faliures then they made themselves out to be, so much in fact, that they can't even die correctly!

Their plan: Slide down a snowy hill on a sled, and hit a tree.

Execution: Went well...for a while.

Results: They lived. What the hell, they lived. They became permanently crippled for life, never able to leave the bleak atmosphere that is apparently Starkfield, Massachusetts. Their trapped, meaningless existence quickly turns into a permanent life of absolute misery. How fun.

So, to sum it all up. It's a dull, boring, depressing as hell little novel, that gives little hope to the characters and the readers, and does nothing to boost the image of New England. In short, leave the whole tragic romance thing to Shakespeare, at least he know how to make it interesting.

Rant now over.

Aloha people,


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